Section 3

Section 3 Mental Health Act 1983

What is this?

An application has been made by mental health professionals who believe an individual has a mental disorder of a type of severity that means they need to be in hospital to receive treatment. The professionals will be concerned that without this treatment the person is a risk to themselves or others.

The person can be treated even if they don’t consent to it. A second opinion has to be sought if the person still doesn’t consent to treatment three months after admission.

Whilst under section 3 a patient can only leave the ward with the psychiatrist’s authority.

The section initially lasts for 6 months. If the individual’s treating team think the person needs longer in hospital to receive treatment, it can be extended by a further 6 months, then periods of a year.

Getting discharged

The treating doctor can discharge a patient when they consider it appropriate.

The patient’s nearest relative can ask for the patient to be discharged. If this is refused by the patient’s psychiatrist within 72 hours, the nearest relative can apply to the mental health tribunal and ask it to consider discharging the patient.

The person can apply to the mental health tribunal themselves, once during each period that the section is in place for.

The hospital managers can discharge the patient following a hearing if they think it’s appropriate to do so.


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